A new dog squad has been specially trained to sniff out products of animal origin (PoAO) and prevent them from entering circulation in Scotland.
The detector dogs, accompanied by handlers and funded by the Scottish Government will be based full time at airports, ports and parcel hubs across the country. They will help stop the introduction of exotic animal diseases to Scotland, such as African swine fever and foot and mouth disease.
Figures provided by Border Force North show that in 2020 more than a tonne of PoAO was seized at ports and airports from people seeking to enter Scotland.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said the Scottish Government and Border Force have worked closely to get the dogs operational in Scotland.
“Alongside their handlers, they have taken part in a robust training regime and now that they have passed their assessments they can get to work and help us detect PoAO entering Scotland illegally,” Gougeon said. “The Scottish Government investment in our new detector dog service will enhance the detection of illegal products of animal origin and reduce the risk of exotic diseases entering Scotland, thus helping to keep our rural economy safe.”
Gougeon added that the monthly seizure data provided by Border Force North helps to ascertain where PoAO originate from and to identify periods where seizures are above average. “We work closely with colleges and universities to ensure that international students studying in Scotland are aware of rules regarding the import of PoAO,” Gougeon continued. “It’s important for people to remember when traveling, particularly during the festive period, that they should not bring any meat or meat products with them when returning to the U.K. as they could carry diseases such as African swine fever. It is vital to keep the U.K.’s pig sector safe and free from this devastating disease.”
Assistant Director for Border Force Scotland Marie Craig said that Border Force detector dogs protect the U.K. from over a tonne of potentially harmful products that could spread disease each year. “The deployment of specially trained detector dogs across our ports in Scotland will further improve our ability to protect the public from the importation of exotic diseases.”